I am Shelley, wife of 12 years, mom to 3 kids. I am who I am, and for the most part my personality is consistent. I treat people nicely, smile at strangers, pick up after my kids, and overall just try to be a good person. That should be enough, right? Enough for people to generally treat me the same way? And they did, until Ellie turned about 4 1/2, and later when Austin turned 2. Then I began to notice that, depending on which child people connected me to, they treated me differently.
You see, the mom of Ellie must have some parenting issues. Ellie has/had frequent meltdowns in public. Maybe there's something going on at home? I mean, look at the way the poor girl is dressed, she wears the same clothes all the time and her hair looks unkept. Or maybe Ellie's mom is just way too lenient. Ellie's mom needs to take some parenting classes, (as suggested by a school counselor once) and learn to stand up to her strong willed child. You are nice to Ellie's mom...in a kind of pitying way. You encourage your kids to be nice to Ellie, but you keep a safe distance and never invite them over for a play date or a birthday party.
The mom of Annie must be a really good mom because Annie is SO well behaved. (at least in public) Annie's mom should be invited to lead something! After all, look how together she is! Annie always looks adorable, so her mom obviously cares a lot about her. She's slim and trim, so I'm sure Annie's mom feeds her a well-balanced, organic diet, and makes sure she gets plenty of exercise. You really like Annie's mom. You encourage your kids to play with Annie, and invite them to everything. Annie's family are the right kind of people.
Then there's the mom of Austin. You're not sure at first what to think of her. Austin is cute, and dressed well, so at first you think she's a pretty ok mom. Then that horrible Austin kid bites your sweet angel child on the playground and there's no longer a question, that mom is NOT doing her job right. You keep a safe distance from her while giving her your best haughty mom look. You look at her with thinly veiled annoyance as she dashes past you in the hall, trying to catch her out-of-control son. You shake your head at her when you see her at Target trying to wrangle her kid into the cart. You gossip with your friends at the pool about how many times the lifeguard had to whistle at that boy. And you make sure sweet little Johnny never gets near that mean Austin. Who knows, maybe that kid has rabies! Austin's mom is a mess.
So who's mom am I to you?
I am one mom. I parent all three of my kids mostly the same way. I have one personality. Although, I will admit that it has been beat down some over the last few years. One can only take so much social humiliation before it takes it's toll. My point though, is that I find it quite interesting how much people think they know me, based on one snippet of my life.
A few weeks ago I stopped by the DMV to renew my license. I took Austin with me, and we were there for 30 minutes or so. He'd taken a toy car in with him, and for 30 minutes he played cutely and quietly with his car, stopping every now and then to smile at me and say, "I love you mommy!". My little charmer. As we were finishing up an older lady stopped me and said..."Is he yours? (gesturing towards Austin) What a WONDERFUL boy! You are doing a GREAT job raising him!" I smiled and thanked her, and had to bite my lip to keep from laughing. She thought I was the perfect mom! Ha! I wondered what she would think if she could see me 3 hours later, when Austin's ADHD medicine had worn off. I'd still be the same mom, but how would she see me when Austin was (literally) bouncing off the walls?
The whole thing makes me want to laugh... and cry. Some people can't shake their view of me based on my children's behavior. If they knew me first as the mom to pre-medicated Austin, they treat me as such, even now that he is much more well behaved (most of the time). If they knew me first as the mom to Ellie, they still look at me with pity.
My life is quite the interesting social experiment. In a way, I am grateful. My own view of people is forever changed. The way I treat them, the way I think of them. Changed.
Something to think about.
One last thing... I have some amazing family and friends, people who have stood by me through it all. Real people. Real amazing, wonderful people who I couldn't imagine living this life without. You know who you are. Thanks for being you.